One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
1. Lésule [7:25]
2. La seduzione [3:05]
3. Il poveretto [2:29]
4. Stornello [1:47]
Six Romances
5. No. 1 Non t’accostar all’urna [3:58]
6. No. 2 More, Elisa, lo stanco poeta [2:11]
7. No. 3 In solitaria stanza [3:40]
8. No. 4 Nell’orror di notte oscura [2:58]
9. No. 5 Perduta,ho la pace [4:24]
10. No. 6 Deh, pietoso, oh Addolorata [3:39]
Six Romances
11. No. 1 Il tramonto [2:56]
12. No. 2 La zingara [2:24]
13. No. 3 Ad una stella [2:29]
14. No. 4 Lo spazzacamino [2:41]
15. No. 5 Il mistero [3:35]
16. No. 6 Brindisi [2:13]
17. Tantum ergo [7:22]
18. Ave Maria [5:19]
Ramon Vargas (tenor), Joanna Parisi (soprano), Charles Spencer (piano)
rec. Baumgartner Casino, Vienna, May 2013
Song texts enclosed but no translations
CAPRICCIO C5170 [65:37]

Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas has been a leading lyric tenor in the big opera houses for more than two decades. Now in his early fifties the voice has darkened and the tone hardened slightly but he has retained his ability to sing softly and in a nuanced way. He was, to begin with, a bel canto specialist and I treasure in particular the Naxos Barbiere from 1992, where he was an excellent Almaviva. Not long ago I reviewed an opera recital where he partly embarked upon heavier roles which seemed to overpower him, even though his admirable sensitivity for nuance saved many of them. This programme with Verdi songs is generally lighter than the opera programme and here are many lovely moments.

Verdi was no song composer but an opera practitioner who occasionally wrote songs that sometimes can be seen as try-outs for his opera arias. Interestingly it was a set of six songs that became Verdi’s first published works in 1838 (trs. 5 – 10) and a further set of six was published in 1845 (trs. 11 – 16). The first two songs (trs. 1 – 2) were composed in 1839, the year when Verdi’s first opera Oberto was premiered. Il poveretto (tr. 3) was published in 1847 and Stornello (tr. 4) is from 1869. The final two songs belong to his church music. Tantum ergo was written between 1828 and 1833, in other words it is teenage music, while Ave Maria emanates from the other end of his career, 1880, and was originally written for soprano and string quartet.

L’esule with its long piano prelude is dramatic and requires heft and brilliance. Ramón Vargas provides both but he is more agreeable in the opening to La seduzione, a finely shaded reading where he excels in honeyed pianissimo singing. The song itself is lovely in ¾ time. Il poveretto is beautifully sung too, but Stornello, possibly the best known of Verdi’s songs, was a disappointment. It is sung by the American soprano Joanna Parisi, who is squally and over-vibrant.

The six songs from 1838 are nice, and I am particularly fond of More, Elisa, lo stanco poeta and In solitario stanza, both of which could be arias from early Verdi operas. Here, and elsewhere too, Vargas reminds me, in both timbre and phrasing, of the late lamented Carlo Bergonzi. Nell’orror di notte oscura is beautiful and intimate and is sung here with some lovely diminuendos.

I am afraid I find very little to admire in Joanna Parisi’s singing and it is comforting that she only sings four songs (trs. 4, 9, 12, 14). OK, she has some good ideas about interpretation and phrases quite sensitively at times but her squally sounds give very little enjoyment. Vargas sings tastefully and musically. Only in Il mistero (tr. 15) does he press a little too much.

Tantum ergo is youthfully exuberant but over the top, while the late Ave Maria is sung with beautiful restraint. Charles Spencer’s accompaniments cannot be faulted but by and large the piano parts in Verdi’s songs are not very interesting in themselves.

Anyone wanting a collection of Verdi songs will have his/her fill of them here and with the reservations I have expressed the disc should be a valuable addition to anyone’s collection.

Göran Forsling